Monday, July 26, 2010
Drifting west through North Dakota
We left the International Peace Garden this morning. Decided to go to Bottineau to do laundry, shopping, etc. Tommy the Turtle on his snowmobile is the town mascot. At about 7:00pm a severe thunderstorm watch was issued for this county. This was upgraded to a tornado watch!!. Most of the other campers seem to be people employed in seasonal work or in the oil industry. About 6:00 they pulled in with their trucks. Mostly guys in their 20's. Two motorcycle riders from Saskatchewan, CA just pulled in to get out of the weather. They pitched their tents behind us.
At 8:23pm the local Tornado Watch siren sounded. Everyone is out looking for a tornado but the sky actually looks a little brighter then it did earlier. I'm looking at the weather radar on the computer. The worst of the storm is further south around Minot. Down there, they are talking about 60 mph winds and baseball size hail, Don't need any of that! We think this was the first tornado watch we have been in.
In the morning we did laundry & ate apple fritters. Got to stop looking for those great local bakeries. :-)
Continued west. Past Mohall, off Hwy 5 is the Upper Souris River National Wildlife Refuge. There is a County Park with RV camping; the Mouse River Park. What an interesting place. The campground is about 3/4 full but no one is actually here. I bet we haven't seen ten people the last two days. Weird. It's like a ghost town. Carol says it's something out of The Twilight Zone. This is almost exclusively a weekend place. About half the RV tags are from Saskatchewan,Canada; all the rest are from ND.. Outside the campground boundaries, are a few streets with small cabins, old trailers, etc., on privately owned lots. There is a cafe, a bar/dance hall, a large gazebo, boat launch, on & on. I'm sure on weekends this place is really hoping. It only costs $12/night for a site with electricity; a real bargain. If we weren't heading to visit with Suzanne, we would hang around just to see the weekend.
On Wednesday, we had dinner at the cafe. Just us, the waitress & the cook. If our travels ever bring us back this way, we'll be here for a weekend.
Thursday morning we headed out. Our tentative destination was the Northgate Dam Recreation Area. On the way, we drove through downtown Bowbells, ND then stopped at the city park for a break. Like so many very small towns in the area, Bowbells has seen better days. Sun Prairie Grain is the biggest employer in the area. At one time, cattle ranching was big. Then there was the oil boom days when oil was over $100/barrel. Today mostly there are vacant buildings. The 2009 population was estimated at 325; down from over 400 in 2000.
We continued on to the Northgate Dam Recreation Area; what a nice find that was. For $10 we got a lakefront site with electricity. There are a few other people here. Two families from ND and one from Sask. At night, another big storm was forecast for this area. Got lucky once again; it was south of us down by Minot. We watched the lightning display for a few hours.